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United States

Wind the popular green power choice

Green power choice in the United States has resulted in 112 MW of new renewables capacity, with 107 MW expected to come on-line in the next year, according to a report issued by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The bulk of the installed capacity, 74.4 MW, has come from green pricing programs offered by over 50 regulated utilities. New wind plants make up 57 MW of this total. Utilities are planning to build an additional 30 MW of wind for green pricing, but are turning increasingly to landfill gas, with 38 MW in the works.

Public Service of Colorado is the leading wind utility with 20 MW supplying their own WindSource program and those of other utilities. Madison Gas & Electric in Wisconsin is next with 11.2 MW. Austin Energy, the municipal utility of the Texas capital, is reportedly planning 20 MW of wind and 20 MW of landfill gas.

In the competitive markets of California, Pennsylvania and New England, wind is the overwhelming choice for green marketing of power, with 95% of new green capacity coming from 35.4 MW of wind. Almost all of this is supplied by only two projects - Enron Wind's 16.5 MW wind farm at Cabazon in California and Bonneville Power Authority's 16.8 MW share of the Foote Creek Rim wind farm in Wyoming, built by SeaWest and Tomen Power Corp, both of San Diego.

Bonneville re-sells the wind power to utilities in the Northwest who use it for green pricing programs. Nonetheless, NREL counts the power as "competitive" and in the green marketing bracket since it is sold wholesale. Moving it to the green pricing column would cut the new renewables built for independent green marketing from 37 MW down to only 20 MW, while increasing the new capacity from green pricing to 91 MW.

Wind will meet almost all additional demand for green power in the near future, according to NREL - another 30.6 MW out of 35.7 MW. This includes 13 MW in New York, 10 MW in Pennsylvania and 7.5 MW in Massachusetts. GreenMountain.com, the most active green marketer, has built only 2.1 MW of new wind and 132 kW of PV in California. In Pennsylvania it has built only 43 kW of PV, but is scheduled to take delivery of 10.4 MW of new wind power from a project being developed by Distributed Generation Systems, Inc and owned by American National Wind Power (Windpower Monthly, January 2000).

Although green marketer Commonwealth Energy claims to have 80,000 customers in California, it has added no new capacity, according to NREL. It is planning 5 MW of new geothermal capacity.

The NREL figures do not include renewables developed before the green marketing concept took hold, but which are now being marketed as green power following expiry of their original power purchase contracts. California's Automated Power Exchange trades about 700 MW of renewable energy through its green power exchange.

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